The creation of a bespoke sentimental cremation ring
Ever wondered about incorporating a loved one's ashes in a sentimental piece of jewellery?
This is exactly what my client Sarah recently requested after tragically losing her beloved husband Ben last year. Sarah came across my work via a google search, knowing she wanted to honour Ben's memory and be able to take him with her on whatever adventures lie ahead. Making a cremation ring is something I had not yet made myself however working within the jewellery industry I have seen a few in my time.
Confirming I was interested in taking on this bittersweet commission I invited Sarah to my studio for a meeting to discuss. Sarah arrived at my studio workshop and after our initial introduction told me all about her story and the amazing adventures that her and Ben had experienced together. I love getting my know my customers as it makes creating jewellery for them even more special.
Together Sarah and Ben ran a local forest school and were both at one with nature. When Ben initially proposed to Sarah he had hand carved the engagement ring out of wood himself and carved four abstract trees across the front, which looked almost like carvings you would find in a cave. The four trees beautifully symbolise Ben, Sarah and their two children.
When discussing ring options, Sarah had said that she wanted the ring to be strong and rustic so that she would not feel too precious about denting it when working outside. I recommended 950 Platinum as the precious metal to use as it is very dense, extremely unreactive and the hardest of all precious metals. Sarah also requested for the ring to be as simple as possible as she is a minimalist.
When creating a piece of jewellery to hold ashes you need to have a space for the ashes to fill and then either a certain fixing device or material to make sure they stay safely in place. I have seen many jewellers create inlays in jewellery where they mix the ashes with resin and fill the gap in the metal with the resin, which is then hardened making the ashes visible. This is a popular method but not one I like particularly as I don't feel it has longevity as resin can discolour over time and I have seen it crack and fall out.
I had recently seen a job go through my place of work (I work in the industry alongside Daisy Grice) where the customer had had a 18ct gold signet ring made where the top had an opening which was filled with the ashes and then a precious metal "lid" fit perfectly on top - this was then laser welded shut creating a watertight ring durable for everyday wear.
I knew laser welding the ashes into this ring would be the best fit for Sarah's requests as I would be able to keep the ring very simple with a hidden recess on the inside of the band. Having seen Sarah's original wooden engagement ring, I suggested having the four tree carvings carved into this new ring. We even discussed having three trees across the front and then one on the inside over Ben's ashes but in the end we came to the decision that four trees would be carved on the front and one inside the ring.
I began modelling the ring by hand, carving it from wax and then creating a small recess on the inside with a ball drill however this did not allow much room. I then created a model on my 3D design software so I could accurately create a larger recess. Once complete I invited Sarah back to the studio to try the model on. It fit perfectly and we were both very exciting about the progress.
The 3D printed wax model was then cast in recycled 950 platinum, using the ancient lost wax casting method. When I received the casting back Sarah then came and tried it on again to make sure it fit due to shrinking which happens during the casting process. On this visit Sarah also left me with a small amount of Ben's ashes.
Having been given the go ahead, I cleaned up the ring by hand, making it textured on the outside and polished on the inside. I then measured and drew out the trees and took the ring to a friend who is a professional stone setter by trade who then using some very sharp hand engravers carved the trees into the metal. I then hand pierced the inside plate from platinum sheet using a piercing saw to match the dimensions of the recess on the inside of the band.
I then took the ring and Ben's ashes to a friend who put Ben's ashes into the band and laser welded it shut keeping them safely inside the ring. Sarah had stated she wanted the ring blackened so once complete the ring was then coated in black rhodium which I then brushed back to create the worn rustic look Sarah had requested.
The ring was now complete and ready for Sarah to collect. It is always slightly daunting when a client comes to collect their bespoke jewellery piece as I don't like to send them finished photos as I like it to stay a surprise until they see it in person. I was personally extremely happy with the outcome of this special ring and knew Sarah was going to love it. When Sarah arrived, I had her new ring in one of my branded eco-friendly boxes with eco-friendly ribbon tied in a bow. I handed Sarah the box and she opened it and put the ring straight on - it fit perfectly, and she was extremely happy. It was a very bittersweet moment but I was honoured and pleased that I was able to help create this perfect ring to treasure their lives together.
If you have a loved one's ashes you would like add into a special piece of high quality jewellery, please get in contact, I would love to help you.
As always - Thank you for reading!